Few cars can match the Toyota Prius when it comes to sipping fuel and being practical. It is the car that proved the hybrid powertrain’s viability after all. However, in order to better compete with cars trying to steal its crown, the Prius must evolve beyond the practical, high efficiency option. As hybrids become more common, automakers can’t rely on a vehicle’s ability to sip fuel to win over consumers.
While the current powertrain works fine, it is time for the Prius to get something new and leave the 1.8-liter unit to the Corolla Hybrid. Toyota’s latest hybrid systems prove you can have power and efficiency at the same time. Case and point: Camry and RAV4, both of which have hybrid variants that offer generous power and superb fuel economy. The standard Prius should get the Lexus UX 250h’s 181-hp 2.0-liter hybrid while a more potent Prius Prime becomes the car equivalent of the RAV4 Prime, only sharper and more dynamic.
Beyond the powertrain, the Prius must get Toyota’s latest semi-autonomous driving technologies first. You can argue that the RAV4 should, but keep in mind that the compact SUV is Toyota’s volume seller. Any futuristic new tech in a model that sells over 300,000 units per year may not be the best idea if you’re a company committed to maintaining a strong reputation for reliability.
Finally, Toyota needs to ditch the current Prius’ angular looks for something sleek and svelte. If the upcoming 2022 Mirai is any proof, you can make a good-looking car with great wind-cheating capabilities and mass appeal. Keep the liftgate, though; that’s one of the Prius’ distinguishing features ever since the second generation. Furthermore, the hatchback body style keeps the car unique from the Corolla, Camry, and Avalon.
Since the arrival of the current generation Prius, Toyota has tried hard to inject some emotion into its iconic hybrid vehicle. The move to the TNGA-C architecture gave the Prius the surprisingly good handling it possesses now. Toyota needs to continue in that direction, especially the Prius Prime, which has the potential to turn into a new breed of sport compact. There’s no need to sacrifice every other aspect of a vehicle just to achieve outstanding efficiency, which could help change the Prius’ image while expanding its appeal to a wider range of people, especially if the vehicle is designed attractively.